No Boundaries – Broader Horizons

The wonderful wildlife of the eastern side of Dartmoor is not just found within the boundaries of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. Species of plants and animals often find places that suit their requirements in the surrounding fields, heaths and woods. The nature reserve managers, Natural England and the Woodland Trust, frequently work with neighbouring landowners to monitor and improve the habitats around this beautiful part of the moor. For example, in recent years, researchers from the University ofRead more

East Dartmoor’s Mires

East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve contains a diverse mosaic of habitats across its 365 hectares. One habitat type that can sometimes be overlooked amongst the larger, more conspicuous woodlands and heaths are the mires. Mires are wet and acidic habitats dominated by layers of partially decayed vegetation, known as peat, often 0.5 – 3.0 m deep. Hidden amongst combes or on the open moors, mires include rain-fed blanket bogs and valley-positioned fens which receive their water and mineral-supply from bothRead more

Sharing Expertise on Woodland Bats

During a long mid-summer day, with the woodland canopy glowing green in the sunshine, it was a perfect day for a walk in the woods at East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve, but this time, it was a walk with a difference. Conservation experts from around the SW had been brought together by the Woodland Trust to share the knowledge built up through recent research about a colony of barbastelles, a rare woodland bat species. Over recent years, this colony hasRead more

A Naturally Creative Partnership

Standing in Bovey Valley’s Pullabrook Wood are a number of mighty Douglas fir trees. Planted around 50 years ago they are now producing some fine quality construction timber and, this summer, a few of these weighty stems were selectively felled and transported to Hooke Park in Dorset for a uniquely creative project.  The skilful felling of the timber, was described in a previous blog ‘A Tall Order‘. In July, under the Architectural Association’s Visiting School summer workshop, a group of architecturalRead more

Bovey Valley Woods 2016/17 Review

The summer months are a perfect time to reflect on the woodland management work over the last year.  Matt Parkins has written this review reflecting on the management work to restore the ancient woodland in Hisley and Houndtor Wood. Looking back on the work programme he reports how areas of the woodland in the Bovey Valley have been transformed – light has flooded back into Houndtor through thinning the giant conifers and new views have been opened up in HisleyRead more

Saving a Rare Species – White-letter hairstreak

Following on from the good work of the East Dartmoor NNR volunteers to find and plot the wych elm trees in Rudge and Hisley Woods, a group of conservationists got together to learn more about a rare butterfly. The white-letter hairstreak is dependent on various species of elm as a food plant and the wych elms of the Bovey Valley Woods were believed to support a colony of this specialist tree canopy species. Though there have only been a fewRead more

A Tall Order

Late summer is an unusual time to be felling trees, but for a few warm sunny days, the familiar winter sound of chainsaws returned to Pullabrook Woods. Small-scale woodland contractor, Martin Underhill and his colleague, Josh were felling a small area of large Douglas fir trees. This is a skilled operation at any time of year, but in the summer, extra care is needed to avoid late nesting birds, which is not usually a problem when the woodland wildlife isRead more

Saving a Rare Species – The Plight of the Elm

East Dartmoor Woods and Heaths National Nature Reserve is just one of over 200 NNRs across England, and Natural England designate these areas to “protect some of our most important habitats”. These conservation areas are widely varied but, here in the woods of East Dartmoor, a team of volunteers is helping to conserve a tree that, over recent decades has become scarce and, while being worthy of protection itself, it also holds the key to the survival of a rareRead more

Finding Treasure: Heritage and Wildlife of the Bovey Valley

The wildlife of the Bovey Valley has adapted to human influences for thousands of years, and today, there are many clues in the landscape showing where and how our ancestors have lived, side-by-side with nature for millennia. Remains of stone buildings from prehistoric and medieval times are scattered through the valley and recent studies have recorded where enclosures and boundaries defined different land uses. Further work by archaeologists continues to tell the story of human habitation in the Bovey which,Read more